Night watchman state


Night watchman state

A night watchman state, or a minimal state,[1] has been variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it is a form of government in political philosophy where the state's only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes fire departments, prisons, the executive, and legislatures as legitimate government functions.[2][3][4]

Advocacy of a night watchman state is known as minarchism. Minarchists argue that the state has no right to use its monopoly on the use of force to interfere with free transactions between people, and see the state's sole responsibility as ensuring that transactions between private individuals are free. Minarchists generally advocate a laissez faire approach to the economy.

Contents

Justification

Minarchists usually justify the state on the grounds that it is the logical consequence of adhering to the non-aggression principle. They argue that anarchism is immoral because it implies that the non-aggression principle is optional. Another common justification is that private defense and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough.[5] Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia argued that a night watchman state provides a framework that allows for any political system that respects fundamental individual rights.

Criticisms

Anarcho-capitalists generally argue that government violates the non-aggression principle by its nature because governments use force against those who have not stolen private property, vandalized private property, assaulted anyone, or committed fraud.[6][7] Many also argue that monopolies tend to be corrupt and inefficient.

Murray Rothbard argued that all government services, including defense, are inefficient because they lack a market-based pricing mechanism regulated by the voluntary decisions of consumers purchasing services that fulfill their highest-priority needs and by investors seeking the most profitable enterprises to invest in. Therefore, the state's monopoly on the use of force is a violation of natural rights. He wrote, "The defense function is the one reserved most jealously by the State. It is vital to the State's existence, for on its monopoly of force depends its ability to exact taxes from the citizens. If citizens were permitted privately owned courts and armies, then they would possess the means to defend themselves against invasive acts by the government as well as by private individuals."[8] In his book Power and Market, he argued that geographically large minarchist states are indifferent from a unified minarchist world monopoly government.[9] Rothbard wrote governments were not inevitable, noting that it often took hundreds of years for aristocrats to set up a state out of anarchy.[10] He also argued that if a minimal state allows individuals to freely secede from the current jurisdiction to join a competing jurisdiction, then it does not by definition constitute a state.[11]

Anarchists generally argue that private defense and court firms would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Furthermore, Linda & Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a free market and that a government's citizenry can’t desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.[12]

Proponents of an economically interventionist state argue it is best to evaluate the merits of government intervention on a case-by-case basis in order to address recessions (see Keynesian economics) or existential threats.

Social liberals and social democrats argue that a government ought to appropriate private wealth in order to ensure care for disadvantaged or dependent people such as children, the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, immigrants, the homeless, the poor, the unemployed, caretakers, or victimized minority groups.

Social conservatives argue that the state should maintain a moral outlook and legislate against behavior commonly regarded as culturally destructive or immoral; that, indeed, the state cannot survive if its citizens do not have a certain kind of character, integrity and civic virtue, and so ignoring the state's role in forming people's ethical dispositions can be disastrous.

See also

Contrast:

References

Notes

  1. ^ Rob Miller. An introduction to minarchism. Homeland Stupidity.
  2. ^ Gregory, Anthory.The Minarchist's Dilemma. Strike The Root. 10 May 2004.
  3. ^ http://www.peikoff.com/2011/03/07/what-role-should-certain-specific-governments-play-in-objectivist-government/
  4. ^ http://www.peikoff.com/2011/10/03/interview-with-yaron-brook-on-economic-issues-in-todays-world-part-1/
  5. ^ Holcombe, Randall G. http://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_08_3_holcombe.pdf. Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable. 
  6. ^ Long, Roderick, Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism, Molinari Institute.
  7. ^ Plauché, Geoffrey Allan (2006). On the Social Contract and the Persistence of Anarchy, American Political Science Association, (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University).
  8. ^ y (March 18, 2004). "The Myth of Efficient Government Service". http://mises.org/story/1471 
  9. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1051. http://mises.org/rothbard/mes.asp. "It is all the more curious, incidentally, that while laissez-faireists should by the logic of their position, be ardent believers in a single, unified world government, so that no one will live in a state of “anarchy” in relation to anyone else, they almost never are." 
  10. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1054. http://mises.org/rothbard/mes.asp. "In the purely free-market society, a would-be criminal police or judiciary would find it very difficult to take power, since there would be no organized State apparatus to seize and use as the instrumentality of command. To create such an instrumentality de novo is very difficult, and, indeed, almost impossible; historically, it took State rulers centuries to establish a functioning State apparatus. Furthermore, the purely free-market, stateless society would contain within itself a system of built-in “checks and balances” that would make it almost impossible for such organized crime to succeed." 
  11. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1051. http://mises.org/rothbard/mes.asp. "But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society, where defense is supplied along with all other services by the free market and where the invasive State has ceased to exist." 
  12. ^ Linda & Morris Tannehill. The Market for Liberty, p. 81.

Bibliography

  • Robert Nozick. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books, 1974.
  • Wolff, Jonathan. Robert Nozick: Property, Justice, and the Minimal State. Cambridge, U.K.: Polity Press, 1991.

External links


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